Consumer Federation of America ATVs are dangerous to children

According to data released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), child deaths increased slightly in 2013, while serious injuries caused by all-terrain vehicles (ATV) to ATV riders of all ages appear to have decreased slightly in 2013.  Tragically, at least 62 children lost their lives and 25,000 were injured seriously enough to require treatment in a hospital emergency department.

“Over 100,000 families every year are impacted by ATV deaths and serious injuries. ATVs are one of the most dangerous products CPSC regulates, causing more deaths and injuries than almost any other product under CPSC’s jurisdiction,” stated Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel for Consumer Federation of America.  “While data indicates that injuries from ATVs have decreased, more extensive efforts must be undertaken to significantly reduce the tragic deaths and injuries caused by ATVs.”

“Every child needs a safe environment, and it is clear from these most recent data that ATVs are not safe for children,” said Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  “Children are not developmentally capable of operating these heavy, complex machines.  The American Academy of Pediatrics warns all parents that no child under the age of 16 should drive or ride an ATV.”

The CPSC released its 2013 Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries on March 3, 2015.  Major findings include:

  • Estimates of serious injuries requiring emergency room treatment among people of all ages decreased from 107,900 in 2012 to 99,600 in 2013.
  • The 2013 emergency department-treated injury estimate for all ages reflects a decrease of 7.7 percent from the 2012 estimate, which is not statistically significant.
  • Between 2007 and 2013, there is an overall decrease of 34% of estimated injuries. This is statistically significant.
  • The estimated number of ATV-related fatalities for all ages decreased from 696 in 2011 to 650 in 2012.  The agency notes, however, that the 2012 data is not considered complete.
  • In 2013, ATVs killed at least 62 children younger than 16, accounting for 15 percent of ATV fatalities; this is an increase from 59 children in 2012. Forty-four percent of children killed were younger than 12 years old.
  • Children under age 16 suffered an estimated 25,000 serious injuries in 2013, a decrease from 26,500 in 2012, which represented 25 percent of all injuries.
  • Children under age 12 suffered an estimated 13,100 serious injuries in 2013, an increase from 12,200 in 2012.
  • The 2013 emergency department-treated injury estimate for children younger than 16 years of age represents a 5.7 percent decrease over the 2012 estimate, although this is not a statistically significant increase.

It is important to note that there is always a lag between the occurrence ATV related deaths and the reports of those deaths making their way to the CPSC and therefore the 2012 statistics should not be considered complete.  For example, when child death statistics for the year 2006 were first reported in 2007, the number stood at 111; since that time, additional data collection has increased that number to 142.

In 2002, consumer groups filed a petition with the CPSC calling for the CPSC to ban the sale of adult-size ATVs for use by children.  While the agency under the leadership of Chairman Hal Stratton denied the petition, the CPSC began a rulemaking process to create new ATV safety standards.  Former CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum had directed staff to follow the mandate of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and promulgate new federal safety rules.  On August 12, 2011, Congress passed H.R. 2715 which amended the CPSIA and which directed the CPSC to complete the ATV rulemaking within a year of enactment.  The rule has not yet been completed.

In March 2014, CFA released a report, “ATVs on Roadways: A Safety Crisis <> ” documenting the growing trend of states permitting ATV use on roads, a practice that contradicts recommendations from the CPSC, public health, consumer and ATV industry groups.  “CPSC’s data in the Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries is a critical source of information for those working to decrease ATV deaths and injuries,” stated Weintraub.  “We urge CPSC to include information about ATV deaths and injuries taking place on and off road.”

Both Consumer Federation of America and the AAP continue to call upon the agency to reject the manufacture of a transitional, “youth model” ATV for 14- to 16-year-olds that is capable of traveling at speeds up to 38 miles per hour.

The CPSC, industry, and many consumer advocates recommend that children ages 12 through 15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 cc’s.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no child under age 16 ride an ATV of any size.

The Consumer Federation of America is an association of nearly 300 nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.